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About Coding House (2014)
109 points by p8952 on May 5, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 61 comments
[url redacted]


Our mission at Coding House is to provide a viable alternative to higher education; one that does not result in crippling debt and teaches the real world skills necessary to get a job - in a fraction of the time.

We recognize that our program may not be for everyone. Periodically, a student may decide to leave or will be asked to leave. We work hard to separate amicably and to support that student with a hassle-free, dignified exit as we did in this instance.

This student (in our first cohort ever) was unable to successfully complete the program due to a number of reasons. About half of these were our fault and we have taken full responsibility to ensure we don't repeat those same mistakes. The other half were a result of the student's actions (or inactions) that ultimately contributed to an unsuccessful outcome.

We have since held more than ten cohorts with over 85 students. All but a handful of them got high paying jobs after completing our program. We have also modified our price structure from $15,000 upfront (what's known as the pay and pray method) to 18% of their first year's salary (with a down payment).

We don’t break even until our students get a job. Because of this, we assume the majority of the risk for our students (skin in the game). This guarantees an incentive for us to do everything in our power to make sure our students are technically competent and able to articulate well in a job interview, and that we will help them get a great job so we can get paid as well.

Thank you.

- Nick James, CEO The Coding House Institute

We let this comment be posted after the thread had closed to new comments, as we've done in the past when people's businesses are affected by material posted on HN.

(Not an opinion about the subject.)

We've taken the url out of this post. The author of the document asked us to do so for legal reasons.


I am sorry. :( 90% of these coding schools need to go. I thought my private school was bad.

Also, there are plenty of free sources for education. Definitely enough to get you started building your own applications. Hell, ever pluralsight is a better bargain.

Agreed. I am incredibly dubious that "bootcamps" have any value whatsoever in any case, except maybe for introducing practicing developers to new technologies. I know tech is the hot place to be any more, but man it's amazing the number of charlatans that have started to show up surrounding "hot technology."

I think caveat emptor absolutely applies with bootcamps, but there are also ones that are certainly worth the money. I'm a recent App Academy grad (full disclosure) and almost all of my cohort are now at high-paying jobs at companies they love, including Google, Groupon and Tumblr. (I'm still looking for work right now, but only because of extenuating personal circumstances.)

Having talked with my friends who are working now, there are definitely things a/A doesn't teach you much about (e.g. deployment/devops, advanced Git) but on the whole we all feel like we learned more than enough to prepare ourselves for working in software development. I've heard very good things about Hack Reactor as well, though they expect you to come in with some coding experience already.

So yes, there are good/great ones out there, but I'd agree that your bullshit detector should be set very high if you're looking into bootcamps.

  I've heard very good things about Hack Reactor as well
My first impression of them is dishonesty.

They claim to be "The CS degree for the 21st century" which is simply not true for an intensive web development course.

While it's maybe a bit of an exaggeration, good bootcamps have an emphasis on (ahem) marketable skills that a lot of CS programs don't. You'd be right that you don't learn a ton of theory like you would in CS, but App Academy at least (and I'd assume Hack Reactor as well) makes sure you have enough grounding in programming fundamentals that learning new languages/frameworks/stacks isn't hard.

That said, one weird thing I've heard about Hack Reactor is that they purposely will hold back students they feel aren't 100% where they want them to be and keep them from graduating. Whether that's out of genuine concern for students or it's just to inflate their job placement numbers (or both), I couldn't tell you.

> That said, one weird thing I've heard about Hack Reactor is that they purposely will hold back students they feel aren't 100% where they want them to be and keep them from graduating.

2013 Hack Reactor grad here. I had actually heard this about Dev Bootcamp before applying to HR, so I asked the HR founders during my interviews if they did this and they emphatically said no. Their genuine emphasis on supporting students -- including intensive interventions when they detect students might be falling behind -- was the main reason I decided to fork over $17k to a couple of strangers and move across the country to San Francisco.

And they didn't disappoint me. Our cohort of 26 had two drop-outs: one guy on the second day (he was from Atlanta, felt a little out of place and wanted to go home, so he became the first person to take HR up on their "full refund if for any reason you want to quit during the first week" offer) and a girl almost midway through the course (she got intensive support, we were all really rallying for her, but she didn't want to keep going). Everyone else pulled together, worked long hours, built some incredible projects, and landed jobs at lots of Companies You've Heard Of. But don't take my word for it... check out the [Hack Reactor alumni page](http://www.hackreactor.com/students/) and see for yourself.

I don't know a single student who has been held back, although I graduated nearly two years ago and my experience may be outdated.

> 2013 Hack Reactor grad here. I had actually heard this about Dev Bootcamp before applying to HR, so I asked the HR founders during my interviews if they did this and they emphatically said no.

Huh, interesting. I knew DBC does that too but they seemed much more upfront about it in their ad copy (and in fact it was touted as a selling point). FWIW, a/A sounds similar to HR by how you describe it; they want everyone to succeed and will give you plenty of support but if you still aren't pulling your weight you'll get booted. There was a guy in our cohort who dropped right before final projects and they let him come back at the same point in the next cycle but they made an exception for him because he had personal reasons for dropping.

But yeah, besides that, great learning environment, everyone wants everyone else to do well, build cool shit and get good jobs. I'd recommend a/A in a heartbeat to anyone, with the caveat that you've done enough programming to know it's something you enjoy doing. (But the amount of Ruby you have to learn to get through the admission process successfully is a pretty decent litmus test.)

Someone was just complaining to me that a/A requires a $14k deposit up front, even though the marketing says it's "no cost until you find a job". (In which case it's more like "full refund if you don't find a job" not "no cost until you find a job".) Is there any truth to that?

$14k? Not unless they changed it since I enrolled. I did have to pay a deposit but it was "only" $5k. I admit I was annoyed because they had just bumped that number from $3750 IIRC. So you do have to front some cash but nothing approaching the full eventual cost of the program. (Again, unless they changed it, which would make me a bit sad if they did. I like that lowered-risk, alignment-of-incentives model and it would be a shame if they had to abandon it.)

I went through Hack Reactor. It's not a CS degree, but I work next to people having one. I don't think they're necessarily better at their job. "The CS degree for the 21st century" can mean anything. It's just marketing bullshit. That being said, judging startups (and IMO Hack Reactor is essentially a startup) based on their marketing would mean that 90% of startups are - what you call - "dishonest".

I enjoyed HR, I'm valuable for the company I'm working for, I maintain a couple of successful Open Source projects (~ 500 stars each) in Go, JavaScript and Haskell.

Without being too arrogant, most CS graduates can barely code. And realistically that's what most of us either do or should do all day long.

Different people have different learning styles. And many people do not have an effective or appropriate learning environment where they can learn new tech through free resources. So I think direct-mentorship can be very helpful to some people; even it can help wade through what's out there to understand what's important to learn, how long you should spend learning x, etc.

But until this article, I had never thought much about bootcamps requiring accreditation, or the dangers of this type of training. Yikes!!

Thanks very much to the author for sharing this experience.

"So I think direct-mentorship can be very helpful to some people"

Something to think about is when my father was still alive and retired/contracting he charged about $200/hr for very specialized database work in a very specific financial field. I've heard thats not totally out of line today. Anyway my point is some of these bootcamps cost $16K and for $16K you could hire "most specialized programming consultants" for 1:1 time for a rather amazing 80 hours. Obviously you'd be better off with a modest amount of hours across many consultants unless you've already found a specialty or someone you work very well with.

Now most tutors aren't going to charge $200/hr for some easy noob questions, then again the middleman (and they'll be middlemen) are going to want an unacceptably large cut.

Its just something to think about, throwing out the advice, that if you've got questions and $16K burning a hole in your pocket there's already a strong and established ecosystem of consultants willing to take your dough in exchange for some answers.

As a point of comparison, music teachers and flight instructors don't really make that much per hour, although much like programming the pros at the top of those fields do clear $100K/yr.

It seems like a rational alternative.

I get that not everyone can sit down and start grepping how a kernel works, how to architect database solutions, or get what it means to be reentrant in the context of parallel programming. Not everyone can be efficient successful autodidacts; however we have places to learn, like colleges. I would rather see community colleges or university start offering more individual courses to help you get up to speed. There is probably some room for just emerging people in technology completely for a period of time, like some bootcamps seem to do, but these sort of operations reek the same way for-profit universities do, feeling very strongly like whoever is teaching is in it for the money and that the whole operation is a fly-by-night. Beyond that, I wouldn't hire someone out of a bootcamp to do much more than maintain my generic off the shelf CMS, as I'm not sure 6-12 weeks is enough to truly gain the experience and knowledge to avoid anything but the most superficial problems when attempting to build and maintain effective codebases.

One of the big "problems" with learning at college is the sequential nature of Computer Science.

You have to take CS1 your first semester, then CS2 your second semester, and then you finally have the prerequisites to take multiple classes at once.

Coding bootcamps have a semester's worth of material, so it would be cool if colleges had a one-semester full-time class that covers Intro CS, Data Structures, Web Development, and Intro to Software Engineering.

Because that basically is a coding bootcamp (except coding bootcamps have class all day in lieu of giving out homework).

This was a big reason for me to do a coding bootcamp. I was switching majors out of engineering and into CS. I didn't want to spend 2 years slowly learning CS to find out if I liked it. It was faster and cheaper for me to do one of these schools to see if I really did want to do this for a living. Now I'm employed and do do it for a living and love it. I still push myself everyday to learn and do more learning outside of work. Unfortunately this style of teaching just doesn't fit the mould of traditional universities, but I think it's a great way to find out if you really want to pursue a career in this field.

The value is pretty easy to understand. If one sees more value in participating in a structured and relatively grueling X week course, networking with a lot of apparently well-connected people in the industry, potential employment opportunities upon completion vs. spending however long doing free-learning, figuring out something to build, continue to build a portfolio, having to market yourself/prove your worth for employment, etc. This is all not even getting into the quality of the programs. For those who want everything laid out for them, there's definite more value vs. doing it the old-fashioned way.

With all that said, I have my own also not positive opinions about the proliferation of these schools and how they affect the industry as a whole. I just think that there is a fair-ish tradeoff (granted one picks the right "school").

I'm a full stack Rails developer now, and attended an online bootcamp called Tealeaf Academy. I liked it a lot because the guys who run it understand development pretty well, and they were accessible to answer questions as I had them. They made no promises about my career prospects after attending the course, charged a fair price. In my mind, the 4 month program was closer to a supercharged college course, not an overhyped bootcamp.

Until recently I was teaching for another 'coding bootcamp' (or something that could be described as such) and when I was reading the linked article/pdf my jaw was on the floor. We surely weren't perfect, but this type of stuff makes everyone look bad.

I am a founder at Coding House.


- Maybe the bottom 20% should go and that is natural selection.

- The is a huge shortage of devs.

- Most colleges are not doing a good job creating dev's (their are about 100 who do).

- You can learn everything we teach on your own for free (near free).

- btw Plursight is great if you are a JR Dev not if you don't know shit.

- Boot camps expedite the process by 4x to 12x the amount of time it would take.

- You will not become an expert or an intermediate dev at any boot camp. You will still be green.

- In a boot camp you will learn between 2-4% of what you need to know about coding.

- You will earn the rest over 20-30 years.

- Thus we focus on teaching people how to be self relent. So the can pick up a new language, framework, how to FIX bugs, TDD, merging, working in groups. The process that one can apply to most anything they need to do down the road.

> The is a huge shortage of devs.

If the high salaries for developers were due to a training-insufficiency-based shortage of qualified devs, the natural market for training programs would be hiring firms, not would-be devs.

The reason the market is would-be devs is because, insofar as there is a shortage, its a talent-and-inclination-based shortage, but you can sell it to would-be devs as a training-based shortage that they are taking advantage of by buying into your program.

> You can learn everything we teach on your own for free (near free).

Then why does anyone need you?

> Boot camps expedite the process by 4x to 12x the amount of time it would take.

Where does this quantification come from?

You should really work on your language skills as a founder, it does not reflect so well on you (and Coding House) if you can't even spell properly when you're trying to defend your creation.

A huge shortage of devs, and yet somehow their wages remain suspiciously flat:


The OP says they were required on a daily basis to fill out a Google form that asked them things like how many tweets and reddit posts they made the previous day. And there's the LOL-worthy question, "What is your Klout score today?"

If Groucho Marx were alive, he'd say "I refuse to join any club that would care about my Klout score"

Besides all of what OP posted in terms of Coding House being a joke, another sign would be that such questions had to be asked and put into a Google form...all of those metrics could have been automated in their collection. In fact, that should be one of the assignments for any proper coding school.

"If Groucho Marx were alive, he'd say "I refuse to join any club that would care about my Klout score""

No, he wouldn't. His original line was self-deprecating, yours is self-aggrandizing.


Considering that the sales pitch of Coding House and every other bootcamp I've yet seen is "give us $$$$ and we'll land you a job making $$$$$$," I wouldn't be surprised if bootcamp graduates got a negative, mercenary-like reputation amongst their peers, who overwhelmingly got into programming for the love of it. Obviously you can't blame someone for trying to improve their standing in life, and not everyone discovers programming in childhood or young adulthood, but I don't really understand why code schools are needed when self-education has long been an established, effective alternative to a CS degree.

The whole bootcamp movement smells of opportunists cashing in on the naive and uninformed.

> I don't really understand why code schools are needed when self-education has long been an established, effective alternative to CS university education.

There's probably a real utility to vocationally-focused coding schools; OTOH, there's also quite a lot of opportunity for those who are sharp salesmen without a lot of training or technical acumen to take fleece the naïve who are aware of the high pay in the industry and aren't equipped to evaluate the quality of the institutions.

Unregulated, unaccredited educational programs (heck, even with regulated, accredited programs, less-than-stellar programs of this type are still a problem, though there are more checks and balances to identify and weed them out) promising to get people into highly-paying careers have always been a problem.

I'm trying to figure out what the relevant criteria should be for the decision of whether to go to a code school or not. I have a friend that sees how hot the market for talent is and wants to get in on it. I showed him mhartl's Rails tutorial but he's too busy to really dig in and when he does ends up burning a lot of time spinning his wheels.

I suggested two Atlanta-area code schools, both of whom have been around several years and are well-connected with the development community. The problem with a code school is the same reason why there's a market for code schools at all. The market for talent is so hot that the people you want to be instructors can make way more money elsewhere than you could ever pay them. So you should know you're signing up for sub-standard instruction even before you start looking for one.

I still think my friend would be well-served at one of these spots, I've offered to help him out, but he's just too busy, he needs a situation that will force him to focus that has people on hand to help him cut through the noise. Then his natural intelligence will start coming through and he'll be able to make progress on learning.

Code school is an option, but you still really need to be resourceful and able to pick stuff up on your own because your instructor is pretty much guaranteed to be of the amateur-hobbyist variety.

"So you should know you're signing up for sub-standard instruction even before you start looking for one... your instructor is pretty much guaranteed to be of the amateur-hobbyist variety"

I don't think this is a fair assessment, especially at the more established code schools.

For one, the instructors are probably making more than you think they are, so the difference between what they could get for a full-time gig and what they could get as instructors likely isn't that differently.

You also need a very special skill set to be an instructor at these kind of schools. You need to know the code very well, but you also need to be a good instructor which is a completely different skill set (communication, patience, understanding of how and when to introduce concepts). A vast bulk of the talent at the very top end you're referring to who would be completely unaffordable for the coding schools may not have that second component.

But, you're right in your suggestion that you choose a good school. The number of code schools, in my opinion, has become far too crowded and I expect that within the year we'll start to see most of the schools either go under or merge.

(As a disclaimer, I (until recently) worked at General Assembly which runs coding schools in several cities, but I don't speak for them and I never worked directly on the Web Development Immersive program during my time at GA, though I did take it and was happy with the outcome.)

Somewhat agreed:

(oh btw a disclaimer at the bottom of a post like oh I may be biased or still work there but....)

I am a founder at Coding House.

We have the instructor (co founder) who wrote the RoR curriculum for General Assembly 3.5 years ago (that they still uses to date) and was there lead instructor. He also wrote the curriculum for Nashville Software School, and Flat Iron School. That they all still uses!

There is not an instructor out there that has more experiences.


EDIT: Turns out this Quora review is written by a different Jose who attended Coding House. My bad!

Was this review by Jose written under duress or legally compelled somehow?


It is written by the OP, but it is quite positive and recommends the experience from Coding House. It was written in April 2015. The article was from September 2014.

Something is off here...

That Jose was me, and everything in that review described my experiences at coding house. I know the first cohort was a mess, but the program has greatly improved, new instructors (he created the curriculum for GA, Flat Iron and another boot camp I can't remember). This program is not for everyone, but if you are prepare to do in 2 months what others do in 6 months you will be ready to get a job as a web developer as soon as the program ends.

I'm assuming two different Joses?

edit: Keep reading that Quora thread. In one of the hidden responses (hidden because it really isn't a review), it mentions the source of the OP, which has apparently been removed since its original posting: http://joselcontreras.com/about-coding-house/

Different Jose's.

Looks like the OP was removed under legal threat (read the end of the PDF), but not before somebody saved it to their Google drive.

Looks like Amy's Baking Company has branched into coding bootcamps.

haha I look forward to laughing at the MS paint conspiracy story boards that result from these kind of events

I can see what Coding House was trying to accomplish from this description: give the attendees a 'solved' but real problem that they could start building day 1. Show them how to be self reliant in terms of finding answers for themselves (important for any development career). Address the commonly neglected area of interpersonal networking and personal branding (I can't believe I just used that phrase with a straight face, but there it is).

But it seems like it was geared toward people who already had a handle on programming. This, along with inflated marketing promises (welcome to the business world) is where things collapsed.

These are fixable problems. First, time should be split between instruction on concrete beginner level topics and the project. Preferably relevant to the task they will be tackling in the project itself. The instructor should be very well versed in the technologies at least so far as the previously solved project the students build is concerned. The project itself and the steps needed to accomplish the project should be very well understood. The instructor should have a step by step guide from start to finish. This would take doing the project from scratch a few times using the notes from the previous one as a guide. That guide shouldn't be shared with the developers but it should serve as a reference to get them unstuck after beating their head against Google and Stack Overflow.

And, of course, you shouldn't make promises of employment that you can't keep.

Now, those seem to be very core problems but I do see the logic behind a lot of the rest. Exercise is important to work into your routine. Networking is important. Learning to solve your own problems is important. Working with others is important. Doing promo photoshoots and locking your laptop? Not so much.

I can see why this person would want their money back and if I were Coding House I'd pay it, but I don't think everything is as damning as this letter makes out. With some serious tweaks it is recoverable. I think their heart was likely in the right place.

The relevance of that site is not immediately obvious.

I recently completed the Coding House program and have been actively interviewing for four weeks. I had three offers this morning from different companies - all six figures and above (yes - $100,000+). I am accepting one of those now. I also turned down several other opportunities because they didn’t fit my career interest. This didn’t happen by chance and it certainly would not have been possible without the exceptional program I attended at Coding House. These post come at the perfect time for me to voice my opinion on coding bootcamps. And by the way this has nothing to do about money - it has to do with an amazing program that provided me with thousands of career opportunities.

For complete transparency I graduated college with a business degree, worked in the software industry (project management/account management side) for 5+ years, and completed multiple online certifications for various programming languages. I am telling you this not to brag (because this experience doesn’t mean shit) but to demonstrate these programs can benefit individuals who have a solid work/education background, as well as those wanting to make a career change.

Prior to Coding House I was making roughly $50,000. I was teaching myself programming on the side on platforms such as Pluralsight, Codecademy, and Code School. I also took took three classes at O’Reilly School of Tech. I can say from personal experience NO ONE can become a Jr. Developer in a reasonable time using these resources. These platforms teach you programming in a kiddie pool environment far away from real world environments. Try developing a production ready application after completing those courses - it isn’t possible for 99% of people. You don’t have professionals showing you the ropes of Version Control Systems, framework architecture, Test Driven Development, Design Driven Development, development tools, deployments to AWS, Digital Ocean, Heroku, and API integrations. Anyone who is claiming someone can make the transition with only using these educational resources is clearly uneducated on software development. Those individuals are so far disconnected from reality its laughable.

Making a transition into software development is far more complicated than taking a few free courses online. Programs such as Coding House (and several others) prepare their “students” for real world application development. Bootcamps are extremely intense and mentally exhausting. You have to be resilient and willing to make a million mistakes. Yes the reward can be great on the other side (great pay and work) but you have to be honest with yourself prior to attending a camp. 2 months is a short time for anything. You have to put in countless hours before and after the program. Nothing is going to be handed to you. Welcome to life - mommy and daddy will not be there to hold your hand. These camps provide a huge stepping stone that modern Computer Science programs are not providing. I am not saying CS programs are not worth time + investment because I have never attended such a program. CS programs and bootcamps are different on so many levels and have different goals.

My Accomplishments at Coding House: -Accepted employment offer one month after program was complete -Won 1st place at Launch 215 Hackathon building an application with Sabre Cord API -Invited to speak with the CEO of Codecademy based on a blog post I wrote. -Interviewed at PayPal and Apple and completed all final rounds of the interview process (and I turned all those offers down) -Developed a mobile application that allows anyone to scan a barcode of a food product and know instantly if they are allergic to any ingredients.

Prior to coding house these accomplishments were not within my reach. I can honestly say I accomplished more in 2 months than would have been possible in a 18 month timeframe on my own. My money and time was well worth the investment.

What makes Coding House successful: -Extensive pre-work prior to attending. I spent well over 200 hours or more dedicated to preparing myself for the program. -One of the best damn instructors the industry has to offer. I have worked with very talented developers throughout my career and this instructor is top notch. He can teach, coach, challenge, and push you to your limits. -The curriculum (Javascript Stack) builds extremely well and allows for great progression -No others worries but coding and collaborating with other students -Application based learning with a solid portfolio to display at the end of the program

So what does this mean? Bootcamps are what you make of them. Are they perfect? No. But they can help propel you in many different directions for your career. Anything worth pursuing is difficult and a lot of people will fail achieving it. I swam for 4 years as a NCAA Division I athlete (again -this isn’t too brag). 20 of us started as Freshman, and 4 of us completed our Senior year. Why? Because it was hard and demanding. Bootcamps are the same. They are hard and require 110% dedication to achieving your goals. The weak will fail and blame everyone around them for it. Those people are everywhere and it’s sad they can’t take ownership for their own failures. The tough will succeed and continue to push the limits of education and software development.

here is the link to the story (copy of the original pdf): http://gapurov.com/files/codinghouse_tell-all.pdf

Hi All,

I am one of the founders at Coding House. Let me provide some insight on the post from last year.

1) 50% of the the post is true and my fault

2) 50% is untrue and students fault

3) It was our very first cohort and we had a lot to learn about what worked and did not work

4) The student has been refunded

5) We wanted to make it like a real boot camp and that was to hard on some of the students

6) We have fantastic instructors you can find there bio's on our site

7) We have change our policies to insure it dose not happen again

8) Look up all the reviews of Coding House and you will find we have great outcomes and satisfied students


Don't list those companies as "partners" if they just allowed you to tour their offices one day, unless your intent is to receive a C&D from Google.

(Comment does not apply if English is your second language.)

Your spelling, grammar, and punctuation are terrible considering this thread will probably end your viability as a business.

> 50% is untrue and students fault

This statement does little to make me feel any better about Coding House.

Should be more like "We take 100% responsibility for the issues and plan to do something about it."

Fair enough.

We take 100% responsibility for taking a student in our first cohort over 1 year ago; who was not prepared, did not do the work in or after the program.

We have learned from our mistake.

We now have extensive per work, coding challenges (gates on all phases) and accept only 3.16% of the students that apply.

That's like a little kid who, when told to make an apology, says "I'm sorry you're so ugly."

Wow, I think that response was even worse. Blaming the student even more.

PS: Hi Josh!

That is perhaps the most passive aggressive "apology" I've ever seen.

The first rule of apologies is it's only ok to apologize for your own actions, not the behavior or feelings of others.

Why not round it down to an even 3.14% and keep it at Pi?

After reading your responses on this thread, I just hope your bootcamp does not teach PR disaster prevention. Or, uh, grammar.

Why do you and other coding bootcamps pretend to be anything else than intensive web development courses?

Another coding bootcamp called "Hack Reactor" is claiming to be "The CS degree for the 21st century" on the front page and on another page they write "Become a Software Engineer".

> Why do you and other coding bootcamps pretend to be anything else than intensive web development courses?

Because that's how they justify the prices they are charging?

> 1) 50% of the the post is true and my fault

> 2) 50% is untrue and students fault

In each case, which 50% do you see in that category, and what have you done/are you doing about the first 50%.

I invite anyone who wishes to check out the program.

To come over for a workshop we have a few coming up on Saturdays.

See for your self.


Dude, just stop. You're only making yourself look worse.

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